Bluehost vs SiteGround is a very common comparison for anyone shopping for web hosting, especially for anyone planning on using WordPress as their website software. I’ve written a review of Bluehost and SiteGround individually, but this post compares them head to head.
Bluehost and SiteGround are both:
- Established, well-known brands in the hosting industry, particularly in the WordPress hosting industry
- Provide a similar menu of products that revolve around shared Linux hosting
- Provide a full spectrum of hosting needs with advanced features
- Provide pricing & hosting products that focus on DIYers to small to midsize companies
- Are either endorsed by the WordPress Foundation or are ever-present at WordCamps
- Have marquee clients with plenty of endorsements or testimonials
And yet – they are very different companies with different brands and different focuses.
Unlike most online reviews, I do not think there is such a thing as a “best” host. There is only the best fit for you based on your goals, expertise, resources, and preferences.
I have current clients who use (and love) Bluehost. Although this specific site runs on InMotion Hosting – I also have several projects that have run on SiteGround for years. I’ve been happy with them.
In this comparison between SiteGround and Bluehost, I’ll try to break down the differences that I’ve found in several different areas ranging from pricing structure to customer service and market focus so that you can decide which is the best fit for your project.
|Strengths||Performance & Data Centers||Ease of Use & Setup|
|Weaknesses||Usability & Overall Pricing||Peak Performance|
|Best for||Intermediate & ex-US customers||Beginners & bloggers|
|Promotion||Get Up To 72% Off||Get A Free Domain Name|
Bluehost and SiteGround offer a wide menu of hosting products such as Shared Hosting, VPS hosting, Reseller Hosting, Managed WordPress Hosting, dedicated hosting, domain names, and more. But for pricing – we’ll focus on the most common web hosting service that small businesses usually need – a shared hosting plan.
Shared Linux hosting is also known as the “kind of web hosting plan that lets you build a WordPress website, Joomla, and most non-Windows web apps.” It’s usually bundled with email and other options. It’s versatile – and makes sense for the vast majority of business owners.
SiteGround Shared Hosting Plans
|Storage||10 GB||20 GB||40 GB|
|Free Domain Name||-||-||-|
Bluehost Shared Hosting Plans
|Free Domain Name||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year|
Both use a typical 3-tier pricing structure. The bottom tier focuses on starter websites, the middle on growing sites, and the top tier on sites that need more resources or features.
The frustrating thing for shoppers is that the tiers do not match up at all. Both use different caps and different bonuses on each.
First Tier Pricing Comparison
The first tier is for small websites on a budget.
- SiteGround has the StartUp plan & renews at $11.95/mo.
- Bluehost has the Basic plan & renews at $7.99/mo.
SiteGround uses a domain name and storage cap. This means that you can only have 1 website on that plan and can only store up to 10GB. But your emails and databases are unlimited.
Bluehost has domain name, website space, and email account caps. This means that you can connect to a single website, but you are also limited on your file storage and email accounts that you can set up.
If you are planning on setting up more than 6 development / sub-websites with minimal storage use, then SiteGround has better promotional first-tier pricing.
If you are looking for the most overall versatility and value, then Bluehost has better first-tier pricing.
Second Tier Pricing Comparison
The middle tiers are the most comparable between both companies, but they still have variations in their focus.
- SiteGround has the GrowBig plan & renews at $19.95/mo.
- Bluehost has the Plus plan & renews at $10.99/mo.
SiteGround uses a storage cap, but also begins to add on bonus/premium features like free wildcard SSL and “premium support.”
Bluehost removes all core hosting feature caps with unmetered/unlimited domains, databases, disk space, and email accounts.
Now – at this level, there are also a good many features that are missing – but, the general plan comparisons are still straightforward.
If you are looking to set up a bunch of sites, however, then Bluehost has better overall value for price per site.
SiteGround’s second tier is so much more expensive than Bluehost’s that it makes sense to look at it as a “cheap third tier plan.” So let’s look at that next.
Third Tier Pricing Comparison
At the third tier of pricing, none of the companies have caps on core hosting features (except for SiteGround’s 30GB storage cap). All three are basically competing on “bonus” or “premium features.”
I’ll cover the different hosting features in the next section, but it’s important to think about what your goals & true needs are. There is no sense in paying for features that you will never use.
It’s also useful to note features that are only “premium” because of contrast. In other words, a company can offer “increased speed” as a premium feature. But is the “increased speed” because the other plans are slow or because there is a substantial change in the account? In short – always ask why before buying the benefit.
- SiteGround has the GoGeek plan / GrowBig plan & renews at $34.95/mo & $19.95/mo.*
- Bluehost has the Choice Plus plan & renews at $14.99/mo.
*I’d also include SiteGround’s GrowBig plan in this group.
Bluehost’s main bonuses are a “SpamExpert,” “Domain Privacy” and “CodeGuard Backup.” The only one here that is a true bonus is CodeGuard PRO – which will backup and restore your site for free. The contrast here is that site backups are both included in SiteGround’s plans, so it’s not a super-compelling pitch…unless you need to restore specific parts of your site.
Domain privacy sounds great, but it’s only worth around $24/yr – so it’s not worth the extra price.
SiteGround’s second and third tiers add several layers of worthwhile premium features, but it’s also by far the most expensive compared to Bluehost and other competitors. They do not include unlimited storage at any tier, even though they do allow unlimited websites.
SiteGround’s third tier is worth the money if you know that you want the convenience of pre-built staging, Git Repo Creation, and wildcard SSLs.
All that said – there is much more to a web hosting company than simply price. Let’s look at other areas among the two companies.
Like I’ve outlined in other web hosting company reviews, it’s useful to break web hosting features down into two different sets – a “core feature set” and a “bonus/premium feature set”.
I mentioned this idea in the Pricing section, but want to expand on it so that you can shop with a sharp eye for what you do/don’t need.
The core feature set consists of what I call the “3 D’s” – domains, disk space, databases, and email.
Domains are how many distinct web properties you can connect to your hosting account. Disk space is how many files you can store on your account, and databases/email is how much software you can install to help manage those files (ie, one install of WordPress requires one database on your server).
As mentioned in the pricing, both mix and match these core hosting features based on the pricing tier.
They also all maintain new, current hardware. Bluehost uses industry-standard software such as cPanel and MySQL that “run” your core features. These allow for flexible and familiar management. There’s nothing proprietary about their setup – so you can pick up and leave whenever you want. Both all have PHP 7 available, but SiteGround runs on their own proprietary backend. This allows for more customization and a better fit for some websites while also preventing versatility. Both offer unmetered bandwidth, FTP accounts, and automatic WordPress installation.
SiteGround both offers free migration from other hosts while Bluehost charges for the service. This confirms that Bluehost is focused on acquiring new customers rather than acquiring customers with existing websites.
Both include a free SSL certificate from LetsEncrypt in their plans.
SiteGround has data centers around the world, including Singapore, while Bluehost has data centers in Provo, Utah. This is a solid advantage for ex-US customers with SiteGround.
Bluehost includes a free domain for new customers – which can be convenient for anyone that doesn’t have a domain name from a 3rd party already.
SiteGround has a heavy focus on developer-friendly premium features such as Git rep creation and built-in staging.
SiteGround will be more appealing to developers or freelancers looking for specific features – or convenient access to already free features like Cloudflare CDN or LetsEncrypt.
Speed & Performance
The core job of a web hosting platform goes beyond simply storing and delivering files to your website visitors. You’ll also want your web host to deliver the files quickly and all the time.
There are a lot of factors that go into website speed, and many times you cannot blame a slow website on a slow host (e.g., even the most powerful engine cannot go Zero to 60mph in 5 seconds if it’s pulling a massive boat).
That said – server speed is still critical. There’s not really a good way for non-network engineers to measure server speed between hosts (since again, lots of factors).
Here are the results from my most recent tests with all three. They all have the same non-cached plain WordPress install with a test from Dallas, TX (about the same distance to the respective data centers).
Here is SiteGround’s test.
Here is Bluehost’s test.
As you can see, both are nearly the same on this one test.
It is important to repeat that this is one test. The results align somewhat with my historical results for all three. Generally, SiteGround is among the fastest hosts that I test. Bluehost has historically been slower, but have improved in the past year. They are usually tit for tat and within a very tight margin. You can use and optimize either one and get a very fast site.
They are all within a good speed margin. None are “slow” per se. If you implement basic speed improvements, you can beat any competitor on a “fast” host who does not implement basic speed improvements.
Now – raw speed is not the only performance variable to look at. You also have to look at uptime/downtime.
All three hosts guarantee their uptime. They will all credit you free months if you have downtime. But uptime/downtime is a tough topic to discuss.
The trick here is to figure out if downtime is more or less likely due to culture, technology, or raw size.
SiteGround focuses on radical transparency. They have an uptime monitor on their homepage. They are open and upfront about it. Their primary risk is that they are growing so fast that internal errors can happen – either on the human or hardware side.
Bluehost is a bit different. They are owned by the largest web hosting provider in the world (Endurance International). They have the resources and capital to fix infrastructure and provide quick solutions. However, they also represent an enormous target for hackers. Also – due to their size, when things go wrong…they go really wrong. In 2016, they had a “spanning tree protocol” issue due to a potential DDoS attack that led to 12+ hours of downtime for millions of accounts. They were open and transparent throughout the incident on Twitter and email…but it was an illustration of what happens at that size.
All that to say – I give SiteGround extra points on uptime – not because they haven’t had downtime, but because I see them having a less overall risk of massive downtime.
Usability & Onboarding
Any good product can turn bad quickly if you can’t figure out how to actually use it. And this point is especially true with web hosts.
SiteGround and Bluehost have fairly straightforward onboarding and good usability. They all maintain similar account portals and they both send out similar onboarding emails.
And they both make it straightforward to install common web apps like WordPress. Here’s what their respective “backend” setups look like –
Both backends are pretty straightforward. Bluehost has nice custom design scheme with access to cPanel in “advanced tools”. They have a direct WordPress integration with cPanel. SiteGround goes full custom without the traditional cPanel. That has some good & bad depending on your preference.
Both have solid onboarding during signup. SiteGround has a versatile signup process. It is straightforward but also focused more on existing site owners.
Bluehost’s onboarding is focused on first-time users with a pretty narrow, but well-designed process.
If you are a first-time user, you’ll likely feel more comfortable with Bluehost. If you have signed up for hosting before, you’d honestly be fine either.
Usability and onboarding can solve a lot of problems. but not every single issue. And that’s where customer service comes in.
The tricky thing about customer service is that it’s all anecdotal. No single comparison (including this one) can state definitively if one company has “good” service or “bad” service.
You never know if your customer service agent just started yesterday (or was their one seasoned pro) or was having a terrible/awesome day – or if it’s a deeper indication of company culture.
Instead, I try to look at indications on whether a company treats their customer service as a cost, a sales opportunity or as an investment.
I like to look for an indicator or proxy that will show this. I’ve found that access and content investment are usually good indicators.
Or, in the case of Bluehost, you can look at public investor reports.
According to the EIG’s Investor’s Day report, they are obsessed about their Net Promoter Score (NPS). In short – that is a metric that measures how likely your customers are to recommend you.
They draw a clear correlation: customer service → NPS → $$$
In other words, Bluehost views customer service as an investment that leads to both more sales and more upsell opportunities.
That’s a good thing for you as the customer with a catch (ie, the upsell part). If you don’t mind putting up with the upsells, you’ll likely experience fine customer service from both Bluehost.
Now – that’s fine and all. But there is still the part about access.
Bluehost does phone support and chat support and DIY knowledgebase. But everything is setup to triage your question. Overall, it’s fine but also the kind of typical customer service you’d expect from a big company.
As the smaller, private companies in this comparison, I can’t see any internal documentation from SiteGround.
That said – SiteGround makes customer support front and center in their positioning.
SiteGround also provides excellent support. They have a wide range of access with incredibly fast response times. You are also likely to talk immediately to a specialist rather than a support triage person.
If you are looking for the best beginner support, you will likely be more comfortable with Bluehost. For more advanced troubleshooting, SiteGround seems to have more resources available.
Even though every host says that they are for “everyone” – the open secret is that no single brand can serve everyone’s needs.
When you are looking at hosting options *for you*, it’s important to understand exactly who their core market is so that you can work with a company that will focus on your needs over the coming years.
Here’s how I categorize the companies –
SiteGround – They are focused on the technical side of running a website. In other words, raw performance, features and support all matter – because that is what constitutes a high-quality website. they sweat the technical details and focus their marketing materials to appeal to website owners who are proud of running a good online operation.
Bluehost – They are focused on usability side of running a website. In other words, pricing, performance and features matter – but only because they help website owners get started and keep going. They invest in good pricing, approachable design, and good features that appeal to anyone that feels daunted by setting up a website. They want a self-hosted WordPress site to be achievable.
The Internet is global, but your audience is often not. If your audience (not your business) is located primarily in a single region, it makes sense for your website to “live” there…if you have a reputable host nearby.
Bluehost’s data center is in Utah, USA. SiteGround has data centers in Chicago, USA and Singapore in addition to several in Europe.
If your audience is primarily in Europe or Asia, then you should give additional points to SiteGround.
If your audience is global, then either will do well, especially if you add a “content distribution network” (CDN) to your website.
Bluehost vs SiteGround Conclusion
So Bluehost or SiteGround? They’re all fine hosts with some differences.